BENJAMIN’S TREASURE

In 1951, beloved illustrator Williams (Stuart Little, Bedtime for Frances, the Little House books) published a novel called The Adventures of Benjamin Pink. Rosemary Wells has colored reproductions of the original black-and-white illustrations, using paints available in the ’50s in a palette from Williams’s own work. This episode has text that has been abridged for a picture-book format and the result is old-fashioned, but charming. On a clear morning, bunny Benjamin Pink decides it is a perfect day for fishing, and off he goes, waving to his wife Emily. But the day clouds over, a storm comes up, and Benjamin finds himself shipwrecked on a desert island. Lo! He finds a pirates’ buried treasure chest. He meets a turtle named Theodore, and, over mint tea and berries, they try to work out a way of getting Benjamin, and the treasure, home. Benjamin builds a raft, the turtle enlists his friend the porpoise, but another storm comes up, and our bunny hero finds himself without a ride and on the wrong island, with the treasure in the hands of monkeys. He starts over, is towed home by a shark, and finds his Emily waiting. There’s still a pearl in his ear left over from his adventures, but he tells Emily that she’s his true treasure. While the story is a bit forced, the images are vintage Williams, warm and fuzzy and just right. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-028740-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

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Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with...

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CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR!

Reynolds and Brown have crafted a Halloween tale that balances a really spooky premise with the hilarity that accompanies any mention of underwear.

Jasper Rabbit needs new underwear. Plain White satisfies him until he spies them: “Creepy underwear! So creepy! So comfy! They were glorious.” The underwear of his dreams is a pair of radioactive-green briefs with a Frankenstein face on the front, the green color standing out all the more due to Brown’s choice to do the entire book in grayscale save for the underwear’s glowing green…and glow they do, as Jasper soon discovers. Despite his “I’m a big rabbit” assertion, that glow creeps him out, so he stuffs them in the hamper and dons Plain White. In the morning, though, he’s wearing green! He goes to increasing lengths to get rid of the glowing menace, but they don’t stay gone. It’s only when Jasper finally admits to himself that maybe he’s not such a big rabbit after all that he thinks of a clever solution to his fear of the dark. Brown’s illustrations keep the backgrounds and details simple so readers focus on Jasper’s every emotion, writ large on his expressive face. And careful observers will note that the underwear’s expression also changes, adding a bit more creep to the tale.

Perfect for those looking for a scary Halloween tale that won’t leave them with more fears than they started with. Pair with Dr. Seuss’ tale of animate, empty pants. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0298-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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